Marathon Training Tips for a Newbie

Part of the fun of this marathon is that it (somewhat) celebrates my 10th year of running.  I started running after school back in 2006 around the track simply as a way to pass the time before my mom could pick me up. It was also a way to keep in shape for soccer.  One thing led to another and soon found myself running every morning at 6am training for cross-country.  Fast forward 10 years, 13+ half marathons, and countless other races later and it’s time to run a marathon.  Having lived in New York for 3+ years and volunteered for the New York City Marathon twice, I thought it would be the PERFECT race to run.  Not only that but it happened to serendipitously fall on November 6th – my half birthday and halfway to 26.

Once I decided that I wanted to run New York, I knew that I wanted to earn my spot by running NYRR’s 9+1.  Sure running 9 (or more) races starts to add up but it was a wonderful experience and I thrived on the racing culture.  I have learned that last year was a crucial year of training because it got me motivated for the full, helped me earn the guaranteed entry into the full, and (sometimes) kept me from getting injured prior to actual marathon training.

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So we may not be running right now but finding November Project and fellow runners such as these gals have truly transformed my outlook on running. 

Sure I thought I had it all figured out after running so many races, putting in the hours (years) of meal prep and reading countless articles/magazines about running.  To be honest, I assumed that I knew it all and simply by knowing, my body would follow what to do.  I assumed that I could just coast through the process.  So not the case.

What have I learned thus far?

  • Glide will be your best friend and people will inevitably question your scars if they are visible in the workplace (thank goodness it’s almost time for fall sweaters)
  • Again and again strong is sexy.
  • Running with friends is more fun than running alone.  Also one should never run alone without being aware of one’s surroundings.  Too many terrible incidents this year.
  • It’s not always effortless. There will be those days that you curse the miles and there will be the days where you feel as if you are on top of the world.
    • Stick with the process and never lose sight of why you are running.
  • Finding speed may come easily to some but don’t lose hope if you aren’t where you think you should be.  It’s a gradual process and nothing happens overnight. (oh and actually DO the speedwork suggested in your training plan)
    • Sign up for a training plan.  I have gotten to the point in half marathon racing where I can train without a set schedule.  Sure, I’m not exactly smart about it but I get the job done.  Marathon training? Get the plan.
  • SLEEP is crucial to being happy and healthy (those red-eye flights are no joke…pure stupidity on my part)…see more below for this fun subject.
  • Comparison is the root of all unhappiness.  Write down WHY you are running (or working out) and remember that.  This process is for you; it’s for YOUR journey.

What do I still have to learn/master?  Oh everything.  There’s the nutrition, the stretching, the gear, and the mental aspect.  Honestly none of this would be possible without the network that I have created through running and it’s safe to say I still have a ways to go.  I still forget to put Glide on every run and end up with gorgeous bruises and scars thanks to chaffing.  I still forget to roll my legs out even though my roller is sitting right near my computer.  I still forget that vegetable chips, ice cream, and seltzer water isn’t exactly ideal fuel for those morning runs.  I still forget that 6.5 hours of sleep is not enough for my body to run and work an entire day on.   I’m sure you’ve heard oodles about how that last point affects us on a daily basis (including running).  No sleep = no bueno.

So how to improve?

  • Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep
    • Put digital devices away an hour before I plan to go to bed
    • Make sure my bed is properly made (some find that helpful for better rest!)
    • Drink mint or caffeine free tea as a means of winding down
    • Follow these steps to improve sleep
    • More tips below thanks to Casper! (who lives in NY and has seen their subway ads? They are amazing. Check out their mattresses here!)
  • Meal prep and really focus on the nights before long runs so as to simulate pre-race routine
    • Heavy up on those anti-inflammatory and antioxidants
    • Stay away from artificial sugars and crap candy – I won’t say no entirely to sweets but I need to make my choice matter.  No candy but gourmet run-to-eat adventures or treats?  Ok twist my arm.
  • Be kind to my body.  Continue to appreciate the process along the way.

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Basically it’s not all sunshine and daisies and bless the folks who have bionic bodies and can do it all.  Yours truly is still learning and that’s a-okay.  I  love the process and running makes me feel alive.

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What are some of your running tips?  Have you learned anything through your training?

*Post inspiration by Casper but all tips, ideas, and recommendations are my own.  I am not a registered Physical Therapist or nutritionist. 

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